Hunstead Distinguished Visitor 2020

Professor Don Kurtz, University of Central Lancashire

Don Kurtz was born in San Diego, California, to an American father and Canadian mother. He obtained his PhD in astronomy from the University of Texas at Austin in 1976, then spent 25 years in South Africa at the University of Cape Town. He is now a British citizen and has been Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Central Lancashire since 2001.

He is a past councillor and vice-president of the Royal Astronomical Society and serves on many international committees. Don observes with some of the largest telescopes in the world, has over 2000 nights at the telescope, and nearly 500 professional publications. He is the discoverer of a class of pulsating, magnetic stars that are the most peculiar stars known. He is co-author of the fundamental textbook, Asteroseismology.

During his visit Don saw the publication of a Nature paper and collaborated on two papers all co-authored with SIfA researchers. He took part in many informal discussions with SIfA staff and students which may lead to future publications.

As part of his visit Professor Kurtz presented a colloquium: “Asteroseismology, the new Keplerian Revolution”, to the physics department. He presented a talk, “Advice on Giving a Scientific Talk” to the physics department in collaboration of PhySoc, and gave the following public lecture in conjunction with Sydney Ideas:

Tides: from curious Kimberley to cannibalistic black holes

Explore the wonder and science of tides

Why does the Earth have two tides a day? What causes spring and neap tides? Astronomer Don Kurtz uncovers the fascinating and mysterious topic of tides.

At Talbot Bay in Western Australia, the tides are big enough to create waterfalls. Tides on other bodies in the solar system can lead to moons disintegrating, which is how the rings of Saturn were formed. Some stars also have tides, including the amazing “Heartbeat Stars” that were discovered using NASA’s Kepler Mission. Tides from some black holes would tear a person apart.

Professor Don Kurtz presents a richly illustrated talk that will cover tides on the Earth, in stars, and even in colliding galaxies.

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